The strange magic of publishing the newspapers

In the early 1970s, the Listin hired a consultant from The New York Times to teach us how to close the one-day edition on time so that we could circulate at the streets earlier than the competition.

By then, the company used to close at midnight, and we wanted to follow the NYT model, even if it meant some baseball’s major league game results would not be released.

After a week of meetings and analysis with different managers of the editorial, advertising, photo-mechanical, printing and distribution areas, the consultant concluded his work without issuing any recommendations.

“Actually, I don’t know which magic you do to be on time as you are. In the Times we could not do it under these conditions, we would finish at dawn. So honestly, I have no recipes for you. Keep going.”

By then, a 60 or 70 percent of the Listin was made manually. The news were wrote with a machine, corrected with a pen, titled on a few pieces of paper and sent for composition with electric machines. The galleys, formatted to one or two columns, were trimmed with scissors on their margins, glued and affixed to pages of the same standard newspaper size.

If the galleys had misspellings, the reviser used a fine knife to extract the faulty word or sentence. It covered the hole with a transparent glue tape and placed the corresponding text on it. In the same fashion, more holes were made for the images or graphics that would be added later, through photo-mechanics.

Once the paste-up of pages was finished, these were photographed with a giant camera. These photos were then “burned” on a thin aluminum plate and this was then inserted onto one of the rolls. And finally to print!

As you can see, it was more of a handmade newspaper than a technological one, very different than the current model. But if someone from the streets now enters the Listin’s newsrooms and receives the day’s edition tomorrow, they would also not know, as happened to the expert consultant of The New York Times, with which magic we work.

– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.

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